Wicker Park: hip, edgy, gritty… in 1994. Now, it's pretty much Lincoln Park on the Blue Line, but that in no way discounts it as an excellent eating destination. So here are Wicker Park's 12 best restaurants, because choosing tacos or Thai is a big decision. Don't forget to BYOB.


 

Big Star Chicago

Best outdoor seating: Big Star

1531 N Damen Ave
The coveted patio space may be the... big star, but the pork belly taco and seriously excellent single-barrel bourbon program shine just as bright!!
 

Best fancy occasion: Schwa

1466 N Ashland Ave
The shockingly cheap $2.50 corkage BYO policy helps offset the cost of the seasonally updated $110 nine-course menu. And with a strict "no cell phone" rule, you better not take yours out at the table unless it's to try to make another reservation -- scoring one takes some work, as this is one of the most innovative, decorated restaurants in the city. 

Sean Cooley/Thrillist

Best pizza: Piece Brewery and Pizzeria

1927 W North Ave
This brewery-pizza joint managed to make Chicago fall in love with New Haven pizza -- plain crust slathered in red sauce and topped with garlic, extra Parmesan, and olive oil with notably no mozzarella (though here the cheese is an option) --  but the award-winning, brewed-on-premise, small-batch beer might've influenced that. Piece also occasionally collaborates on pies with other restaurants.
 

Best burger: Trenchermen

2039 W North Ave
Formerly home to a Russian bathhouse, the space is now host to a full-on restaurant, but it's only at the bar that you can get the ridiculous Wednesday $10 burger and beer special. Though don't think we dubbed this tasty pickle and melty cheddar double-patty the best just because of the price point.

Flickr/David Danzig

Best sushi bars: Mirai Sushi

2020 W Division St
You can't question this decade-old sexy spot with both traditional rolls and frequent unique offerings. Well, technically you could, but considering it's one of the best sushi spots in America, why would you?
 

Best breakfast & brunch: Bongo Room

1470 N Milwaukee Ave
Remember when you were a kid and you could eat, like, 11 Eggo waffles and half a bottle of Log Cabin syrup and still have the energy to play intramural soccer for three hours? Well, life is different now and fat breakfasts like the Chocolate Tower French Toast -- chocolate-chunk bread stuffed with maple mascarpone, banana crème brûlée sauce, fresh bananas, and shaved chocolate -- mean you’re going right back to bed. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing; just be prepared.

Hollywood Grill

Best diner: Hollywood Grill

1601 W North Ave
Open 24 hours a day 365 days a year, it's for when late nights roll into early mornings, if you follow me. Like, you were out partying and it got late and now it’s morning and you want a side of grilled chicken Fettuccine Alfredo with your pancakes.
 

Best place to take your parents: Enoteca Roma Ristorante

2146 W Division St
Wicker Park's not big on super fancy stuff, so if your parents are paying, or you’re treating your parents because they brought you up by goddamn hand and you owe them, this quaint Italian neighborhood wine bar will do just fine.

Flickr/solarnu

Best Mexican: Picante Taqueria

2016 W Division St
Go authentic with a carne asada or a tongue taco, or try the White Boy Taco -- a hard-shell combination that's basically an elevated Ortega taco dinner kit.
 

Best Thai: Thai Village

2053 W Division St
The food is totally affordable in it's own right, but bring your own booze to make it doubly so. Ask for the Pad Se Ewe made crispy. 

The Smoke Daddy

Best barbecue: The Smoke Daddy

1804 W Division St
Let's be real: better BBQ places exist in the city. But as this place has been slinging still excellent pulled pork and mac & cheese well before Division became "Division," it's well worthy of inclusion. The recent expansion has somewhat alleviated the generally robust crowds, but the live music's still kickin'.
 

Best cheap lunch: Sultan's Market

2057 W North Ave
Spice up your offsite Middle Eastern biz lunch with awesome/mad cheap chicken shawarma and spicy falafel/your own booze because this place is BYO, obviously.

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Carrie Dennis is an associate editor for Thrillist and always brings her own Bacardi Limon. Follow her on Twitter @CarrrieDennnis.

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1. Big Star 1531 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (Chicago)

A lot of things about Wicker Park's Big Star will make you feel like you're in Texas. First, there's the taco-centric menu that features a dozen taco varieties and necessary sides like guacamole and queso. Then there's the drink selection, which is heavy on whiskey, tequila, and craft beer. The massive outdoor patio begs for you to order a margarita and drink the day away, especially during the summer when the seasonal music series is in full swing.

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2. Schwa 1466 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (Wicker Park)

Schwa is an elusive, 24-seat prix fixe restaurant in Wicker Park, where the staff is notorious for rarely answering the phone (read: screening calls) to take reservations. If you somehow manage to lock one down (lucky you), you're invited to bring your own alcohol (and encouraged to bring some for the kitchen), and enjoy an ever-changing, nine-course menu with heavy metal playing in the background. The restaurant is run by a small team led by Chef Michael Carlson, each of whom cooks, serves, pours, and washes dishes. If they like you, they'll invite you into the kitchen for some of that liquor you so generously brought them.

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3. Trenchermen 2039 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (Wicker Park)

Trenchermen is modeled after the hospitality offered by a Turkish bathhouse that previously occupied its location -- "a place where vodka was at hand and a bowl of borscht and a cold beer was a staple." Today you'll find a classier menu with dishes like braised lamb shank served over goat cheese gnudi, that still captures the comfort of the food formerly served here. Oh, and 30+ beers on tap.

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4. Mirai Sushi 2020 W Division St, Chicago, IL 60622 (Wicker Park)

Open for over 10 years, Mirai is a classy sushi staple with some unique dishes that keep its fans coming back for more -- like its Spicy Mono Roll, made with spicy octopus topped with spicy tuna and sweet unagi sauce.

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5. The Bongo Room 1470 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (Wicker Park)

Brunch at The Bongo Room is not for the faint of heart (or those determined to be skinny of waist). A chocolate French toast tower, beef tenderloin Benedict, and a massive breakfast burrito make up just a part of a brunch menu on which every item is listed under "Sinful".

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6. Hollywood Grill 1601 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60622-2246 (Wicker Park)

Open 24 hours a day and 365 days a year, Hollywood Grill is for when late nights roll into early mornings, if you follow me. Like, you were out partying, and it got late, and now it’s morning. And you want a side of grilled chicken fettuccine Alfredo with your pancakes.

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7. Enoteca Roma Ristorante 2146 W Division St, Chicago, IL 60622 (Wicker Park)

Wicker Park's not big on super fancy stuff, so if your parents are paying, or you’re treating your parents because they brought you up by goddamn hand and you owe them, this quaint Italian neighborhood wine bar will do just fine.

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8. Picante Taqueria 2016 W Division St, Chicago, IL 60622 (West Town)

Go authentic here with a carne asada or a tongue taco, or try the White Boy Taco - a hardshell combination that's basically an elevated Ortega taco dinner kit.

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9. Thai Village 2053 W Division St, Chicago, IL 60622 (West Town)

The food is totally affordable in it's own right at Thai Village, but bring your own booze to make it doubly so. Ask for the Pad Se Ewe made crispy. Trust us.

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10. The Smoke Daddy 1804 W Division St, Chicago, IL 60622 (Wicker Park)

Smoke Daddy is a BBQ emporium in Wicker Park serving up sauce-slathered eats like ribs and brisket, while also showing its more delicate side with brunch that includes something called a "Big Daddy Breakfast."

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11. Sultan's Market 2057 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (Wicker Park)

Sultan's Market is the best on-the-go spot for falafel, babaganuj, curry basmati rice, and anything else Middle Eastern/Mediterranean. It's not too expensive, and you can BYOB. Score!

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